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Success stories

The Canadian Cancer Society encourages governments across Canada to adopt public policies that will prevent cancer and help people living with cancer.

Read about some recent advocacy successes below.

  • Support for Canada’s family caregivers

    Family caregivers are the backbone of our healthcare system, providing unpaid care estimated at over $25 billion for 2009. Most family caregivers have annual incomes of less than $45,000 and most are women. Family caregivers often become financially, physically and emotionally overwhelmed.

    The Canadian Cancer Society has been advocating for better support for caregivers for more than 10 years and has called for a national caregivers strategy.

    Our targeted political advocacy efforts have had significant success, including these actions by the federal government:

    • January 2009passed the Fairness for the Self-Employed Act, allowing self-employed workers to receive compassionate care benefits if they pay into the Employment Insurance program
    • February 2012announced the Family Caregiver Tax Credit, allowing caregivers to claim a caregiver amount on their tax return
    • August 2012introduced a new Employment Insurance benefit for parents of critically ill children under 18 years old, allowing caregivers to claim up to 35 weeks of EI benefits
    • April 2015 - announced the improvement of the EI Compassionate care benefits from 6 to 26 weeks of benefits to allow family caregivers to take time off work in order to provide care and support to a loved one in palliative care
    Moving forward

    We will continue to work on minimizing financial burden and to ensure that all Canadians have access to the right care, in the right place, by the right person including good palliative care.

  • Asbestos

    All forms of asbestos cause cancer. The Canadian Cancer Society has long called for all levels of Canadian government to adopt a comprehensive strategy addressing all aspects of asbestos.

    We worked to make asbestos an election issue during the Quebec provincial election in summer 2012, and 3 out of 4 major parties promised to oppose the asbestos industry, if elected.

    In September 2012, the newly elected provincial government in Quebec cancelled a loan guarantee to the asbestos industry. As a result of this action, the federal government announced it would no longer oppose including chrysotile asbestos in the Rotterdam Convention’s list of hazardous substances.

    Moving forward

    The Society is urging the federal government to adopt a comprehensive strategy to address all aspects of the asbestos issue, including:

    • immediately setting a clear timetable for  phasing out the use and export of asbestos
    • implementing a national surveillance system to track health outcomes of people who have been exposed to asbestos
    • creating a public registry of buildings that contain asbestos
    • providing transition support for affected communities
    • including chrysotile on the Rotterdam Convention’s Prior Informed Consent list
  • Tobacco control

    The Canadian Cancer Society has been at the forefront of tobacco control advocacy for decades. We campaigned to ban smoking in indoor public spaces and workplaces across the country and in recent years we’ve lobbied the federal government to protect the public through:

    • Graphic warnings on cigarette packaging: In 2000, Canada was the first country to require picture warnings on tobacco packages, with regulations taking effect in 2001. There are now more than 100 countries/jurisdictions that have followed the Canadian model. The pictures graphically show the effects of cancer and tobacco smoking, including colour photographs of cancerous lungs and diseased mouths.

      The Society released a study in January 2002 that showed the effectiveness of the graphic warnings.

      In 2012, the warnings were increased in size to cover 75% of the package front and back and now include a toll-free quit line number for smokers to call who want assistance in quitting. In many provinces, the quitline service is provided through the Society’s Smokers’ Helpline.

    • Ban of flavoured tobacco products: In June 2008, after a survey suggested that a high number of teens were experimenting with cigarillos, the Society called for a ban of flavoured tobacco products and met with government representatives to persuade them to take action against this dangerous marketing tactic.

      In October 2009, the federal government passed legislation making it illegal to sell flavoured cigarettes, little cigars and blunt wraps in Canada. In subsequent years, provinces adopted legislation on flavoured tobacco, with 7 provinces (AB, ON, QC, NB, NS, PEI, NL) banning flavours including menthol in most or all tobacco products. In 2015, Nova Scotia became the first jurisdiction in the world to ban menthol in cigarettes and other tobacco products. In 2017, a national ban on menthol cigarettes was implemented, with menthol in all tobacco products banned in November 2018.

  • Saskatchewan success stories
    Asbestos achievements

    In April 2013, Saskatchewan became the first province to adopt a mandatory registry of public buildings owned and operated by the provincial government. The web-based registry allows workers, employers and the general public to search for whether there is asbestos in public buildings across Saskatchewan.

    The Canadian Cancer Society partnered with health groups and first responders to educate the public about the danger of asbestos and the need for a mandatory public registry. Our campaign included an online petition that garnered more than 1200 signatures in a few weeks.

    Tobacco control achievements
    • In January 2015, the cities of Martensville and Warman adopted smoke-free bylaws prohibiting smoking on outdoor patios of bars and restaurants, in parks, playgrounds and on sports fields. The bylaws also prohibit the use of electronic cigarettes anywhere tobacco is sold.
    • In March 2013 provincial tobacco taxes increased $1 for a pack of 25 cigarettes.
    • The Tobacco Tax Amendment Act, 2010 limited tax-exempt tobacco to First Nations.
    • The Tobacco Control Amendment Act, 2010 prohibited smoking in cars carrying children, banned smoking within 3 meters of windows, doors and air intakes, and in common areas of multi-unit dwellings. It prohibited tobacco sales in pharmacies, outdoor tobacco advertising and banned the use of tobacco on school grounds.


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